Mercedes-Benz upgraded its SLS flagship Coupe and Roadster for the 2013 model year, and the changes are marked with them new "GT" nomenclature. Both SLS models arrive with a retuned naturally aspired 6.2-liter V8 delivering 583 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque (the horses are up from 563, but the torque remains the same) mated to a revised seven-speed AMG Speedshift dual-clutch gearbox. Rounding out the mechanical upgrades is a redeveloped AMG two-mode adaptive suspension. Physically, the revised models are differentiated by their new "GT" badging, darkened headlight/taillight buckets, red brake calipers, unique wheel colors and high gloss finish on the front grille, exterior mirrors and hood/fender fins. Inside the cabin are new red seatbelts, Alcantara upholstery and contrasting red stitching.

As it is nearly impossible to experience the aluminum gullwing beast on public roads, Mercedes invited out to Southern California's Willow Springs to wring out the 2013 SLS GT Coupe on a racing circuit.

Driving Notes

  • It was impossible to feel the horsepower bump from the driver's seat (the track's 2,000-foot elevation negated the increase anyway), but the free-breathing V8 sounds even more spectacular each time I meet it. Gobs of low-end torque, a responsive throttle and a willingness to race to redline (7,200 rpm) make it a near-perfect driver's companion. The automaker quotes a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds – traction at launch is a problem – with a top speed of 197 miles per hour. The SLS attacked the Streets of Willow with voraciousness. I've driven hundreds of laps on the circuit, but never in a vehicle so powerful that I needed to brake hard to make Turn One after rocketing down the straight (running clockwise).
  • After finding myself bumping off the limiter repeatedly while using the wheel-mounted paddles in manual mode (an LED shift light blinks red at the top of the cluster), I put the gearbox in Sport Plus and let computers do the thinking. Overall, I was pleased with its intuitiveness and I really enjoyed the throttle blips on the downshifts.
  • A near complete lack of body roll and very firm AMG Sport suspension (I chose the damper's softest setting to combat the surface's broken pavement) meant the rear end would break loose mid-corner if the power was applied abruptly. Smoothness and consistent throttle applications were imperative to keeping the rear end planted and exiting the corner with the nose pointed down the track. Overall balance was impressively neutral and weight distribution, fore and aft, was easily controlled with the accelerator pedal.
  • The 15.4-inch perforated front steel rotors could take plenty of abuse, but I preferred the optional carbon-ceramic brake setup as they felt unaffected by the heat generated on the tight track. As an added benefit, they weigh less and look even better through the forged spokes on the wheels.
  • Driven back-to-back on the track, the updated Coupe and Roadster were nearly identical dynamically (they both weigh 3,573 pounds). From a driver's perspective, the exhaust note is more pronounced in the Roadster and there was more wiggle room for my helmeted head beneath its soft convertible top. Still, I wouldn't want to give up those signature gullwing doors.


Top Competitors

2015 BMW M6
MSRP: $111,900
2015 Audi R8
MSRP: $199,900
2015 Lexus RC-F
MSRP: $62,400
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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 57 Comments
      Dean
      • 2 Years Ago
      Only out of my price range by $149,500...
      MMM
      • 2 Years Ago
      Stunning! If only I had the money ;)
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      dgcjaws
      • 2 Years Ago
      great car would love to drive on closed course
      sasha
      • 2 Years Ago
      Amazed that NHSA would allow the gullwings. Good luck on a rollover.
      Mbukukanyau
      • 2 Years Ago
      If Mercedes can get that sort of power from a 6.2, why can GM with their most advanced combustion system like ever get that power for corvette from their 6.2?
        edward.stallings
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mbukukanyau
        The Corvette engine was engineered to get the most power for its weight, not displacement. The MB engine is heavier, has a higher center of mass, costs more and uses more fuel. You might ask, "why can't Mercedes make an engine as light as the LS engine with as much power? "
        domingorobusto
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mbukukanyau
        GM doesn't get that kind of power because the Corvette is literally 1/4 the cost of the SLS. It's far more of an achievement IMO that Chevy can make that kind of power to that low of a price point. The crankshaft in the SLS probably costs more than the whole LT1 engine in the new Vette. Also, the Vette has a more substantial powertrain warranty to fulfill (SLS 4 year/50,000 mile, Corvette 5 year/100,000 mile), so they can't push the capabilities of the engine quite as hard as Mercedes can. I know from personal experience that an LS3 (6.2 NA) will make around 600 crank hp with nothing more than a cam swap and a tune, so I imagine that the new LT will respond even better.
        Rob J
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mbukukanyau
        If GM can get 321hp out of their 3.6 in the ATS, why can't Mercedes get more than 288hp from their 3.5 in the C class? Because that is a STUPID question to ask.
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mbukukanyau
        You're not familiar with the Corvette ZR1 are you?
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @The Wasp
          Rick Hamilton: http://www.autoevolution.com/news/the-sls-amg-is-not-based-on-a-defunct-viper-project-21844.html
        edward.stallings
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mbukukanyau
        You might also ask why the Mercedes engine weighs a lot more, has a higher center of gravity, costs a lot more and uses more fuel. The Corvette engine is a production car benchmark for power to weight, not power to displacement.
        Peter_G
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mbukukanyau
        Name me a GM vehicle that costs MSRP: $199,500 (base) Patented technology cost$.
          bperlow
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Peter_G
          The vette's v8 is more compact since it doesn't have overhead cams, it has a more normalized torque range. The Benz may have 583 hp, but it only has 479 lb ft of torque. The vette has 450hp and 450lb feet of torque. Its an easier engine to live with. Higher revving, lower torque-to-hp ratio engines are far over-rated. I can't wait to see the next ZR1.
          mapoftazifosho
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Peter_G
          No GM fanboi, but this guy's comment is just silly. Derp...why can't the 2.0L in my used economy car make the same power as the Mitsubishi Evo? Derp
          Mbukukanyau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Peter_G
          This Mercedes benz is a naturally aspirited engine with the same displacement as the C7 motor, and Chevrolet estimates only 450 hp and similar torques. The ZR1 motor is blown.
        Donny Hoover
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mbukukanyau
        Not going to say anything anti AMG or anti GM. Fact is these are two of the best engines ever built. Just another senseless power output to displacement post any way you slice it. Pay this guy no attention.
      Dexter Morgan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hold on! You're telling me that Merc's flagship sports car is slower to 60 MPH than their family sedan (E63 AMG)? Now that's interesting.
        Shanti
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dexter Morgan
        Hehe, it's the same with Audi and their new S8 (vs the R8), isn't it? It's funny, we're now in an age when the fastest cars around a track are usually not the ones with the highest top speed or 0-60 time.
        domingorobusto
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dexter Morgan
        It's all about traction. Where traction is an issue, more weight over the drive wheels = better launch. Want to know something even funnier? The wagon version the E63 is even quicker, again because of more weight on the rear wheels. So you can outlaunch their flagship sports car in a wagon :)
      skysob
      • 2 Years Ago
      UGLY!
      nonucantmakemee
      • 2 Years Ago
      sexy? well everyone has their own opimion i guess
        alistair.dillingham
        • 2 Years Ago
        @nonucantmakemee
        They failed. The Original was sexy, beautiful, and all the rest. This one is awkwardly styled. it Sucks. Plus it is obscenely expensive, of course. I'd rather have a Ferrari for that $ and own a SUPERCAR, not some Merc.
      Eta Carinae
      • 2 Years Ago
      wow seeing as this thing comes in 200k for 583 HP ? the RS6 and M5 is producing almost the same power....and rumor has it the 3rd. Gen Cadillac CTS-V is going to produce around 600 HP....also riding on the alpha platform the weight will be around the same as well.......i wish MB did the SLR again, loved that car
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wanted to love this car because I love the original, but it just looks weird to me. I think the SLR looks ten times better and more exotic than this. In fact it is on my Top 10 Lottery Cars list along with the Carrera GT.
        alistair.dillingham
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Wayne
        The original gullwing had beauty and character, this one is a deeply confused, not elegant design.
      lthrnck68
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mercedes? Gull-wing? 300 SL from the 50s for me.
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